Illustrated London News – Volume 37 – Page 688
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1905 – Snippet view – More editions
It must be a wrench to her Royal Highness to leave such small children, but the Queen has undertaken to have them under her personal charge. Queen Victoria’s way … A high medical authority declares that domestic pets, and especially lap-dogs, are responsible for much of the spreading of consumption. … How many thousands are thus addressed, especially amongst solitary and childless women!
Country dogs, too, are thoroughly miserable on their first introduction to the comforts of city life ; they rise every half minute from their couch in the chimney corner, and hang about the door, looking appealingly at every visitor, even though a blizzard howls without. They seem at first unable to disassociate the ideas of confinement and captivity, and probably also mourn the lost opportunities for exercise and moonlight rambles, or their separation from caches of buried bones, for, with all the relatives of the burrowing fox, the enjoyment of fresh air is a secondary consideration. The proverbial wretchedness of a tan-yard dog has nothing to do with the effluvia of the hide-vat. The pulmonary resisting power of man’s truest friend was strikingly illustrated by a recent tragedy in Chicago. A Danish dairyman, in stress of hard times, prepared for suicide, and conceived the horrible idea of taking all his relatives and pets along. His wife, four children, canary birds, and Newfoundlander, were sleeping in two adjoining rooms; and after locking the doors and screwing down the windows, the desperado turned on the gas, and went to bed. At eleven o’clock the next morning the house door was opened by two policemen, who were almost suffocated before they succeeded in opening the windows. The atmosphere resembled that of a gas tank, and the murderer had attained his purpose in all essentials. He had probably died before midnight. His wife, children, and birds were all hopelessly dead, but the big Newfoundlander was not only alive, but in the full possession of his five senses, and rose with a menacing growl when the strangers approached the bed of his master. But, as a rule, that four-footed miracle had probably passed the nights in the back-yard of the little cottage, and protracted confinement in a vitiated atmosphere at last affects the respiratory comfort of parlor dogs. They begin to sniffle and get so asthmatic that their efforts at locomotion are attended with an audible wheeze. Their digestive apparatus, however, generally shows the first symptoms of disorder. They become fastidious, turning up their stove-dried noses at dainties which the lank trampdogs of the Western prairies would purchase at the price of a fifty-mile trot through the snow ; surfeits avenge themselves in retching fits, dietetic caprices (the mastication of rags, as the best available substitute for grass), or, to their patrons’ still greater alarm, in a complete loss of appetite. Fido declines to answer the dinner call. He sticks to his couch or the ounge, uttering now and then a querulous whine, wags his tail apologetically in reply to my lady’s
inquiries, but snarls at the approach of the man with the medicine bottle. Still there are specialists for complaints of that sort. In Vienna and Paris they have veterinary hospitals with special wards for the treatment of canine disorders. “Is the dog physician in P” inquires Madame Baizze-Chien, entering the office with a waddling pug-dog. “Yes; take a chair, madame ; kindly state the symptoms of the complaint, and I will take charge of your pet, and warrant a cure in four days.” “Couldn’t you just make out a prescription and—” “Let you physic him at home, you mean P. We could hardly guarantee the results. You see, it is necessary to watch the effect of our prescriptions from hour to hour. There is not the slightest risk if you will intrust him to us for half a week.” “O it will half kill me ! But if I leave him, please treat him as you would your own — remember his enfeebled condition, I mean, and do not prescribe too violent drugs ; promise me that.” “With pleasure. We shall try to dispense with drastic drugs altogether. Kindly let me arrange his bed in this basket of wool.” Madam finally consents, and a minute after her departure the specialist rings a bell. “Here, Jacques, fling a pailful of water on this little monster, and tie him up in the kennel-yard. Give him all the water he wants, but not one crumb of lunch before next Friday night. Then try him with a small slice of bread; but take care he does not snap your fingers off. We have to return him by Saturday noon.” Fido returns, like a regenerate prodigal, and only the deficient caliber of his hide, not lack of appetite, will hinder him from devouring a fatted calf, bones and all. But a suspicion of their business methods has diminished the popularity of these pug-dog hospitals. Drugs failing, Fido is left to his misery, and its consequences avenge him upon the race of his tormentors. He becomes a night yelper, awakening invalids and anathemas for a dozen blocks around his master’s back porch. The watch-dog instinct constitutes half the value of the animal that disputes the horse’s claim to supreme usefulness, but no one who has listened all night to the monotonous, querulous yelping of city curs, can doubt that they bark for precisely the same reason that makes city babies squall, and caged jackals howl; viz., the lack of better exercise. Vocal efforts to some degree supplement deficient opportunities for the exertion of the motive organs, and, combined with the promptings of a fretful humor, the close confinement of domestic pets thus evolves the most horrid forms of that noise nuisance that has made thousands of city dwellers envy the silence of the desert, or even of the grave. The East Indian jungle cock, the ancestor of our barn-yard fowl, crows at daybreak to rally the beauties of his harem, or warn them to seek shelter from the eye of the forest hawk; but only captivity has developed the penchant for those moonlight serenades that make one long for a visitation of that chicken epidemic which in 1859 killed off the poultry of nearly all Southern China.
“If I could get a good sleep,” writes Mrs. Jane Carlyle in formentis, “I would have a chance to recover ; but that dreadful woman next door, instead of suppressing the cock which we so pathetically appealed against, has produced another. Her servant has ceased to take charge of them. They are stuffed, with ever so many hens, into a small hen-coop every night. Of course they are not comfortable, and of course they crow and screech, not only from daylight, but from midnight, and so near that it goes through one’s head every time like a sword. The night before last they woke me every quarter of an hour; but I slept some in the intervals, for they had not succeeded in rousing him above. But last night they had him up at three. He went to bed again, and I listened every minute for a new screech that would send him down a second time. What is to be done, God knows. If this goes on, he will soon be in Bedlam, and I, too, for anything I see to the conThe last note we sent that woman she would not open. I send for the maid, and she will not come. I would give them guineas for peace, but they prefer torminenting us. In the law there is no recourse in such cases. They may keep wild beasts in their back-yard if they choose to do so.”
A year ago the managers of the Pullman colony were probably the best-hated men in America, but it must have modified the verdict of thousands to learn that one cause of their tenants’ complaints was the “tyrannous regulation ” against the keeping of pigs and roosters.
Mrs. Carlyle’s theory about the approximate cause of crowing concerts agrees with that of a noteworthy Italian couplet:
trary, and how to hinder it from going on 2
“Mo Aor Alacer, ma for rabbia
Canfa il wrello nella gabbia —”
“It is not pleasure, it is rage,
That makes the bird sing in his cage.”
The crow of a caged rooster is not a shriek of triumph, but of distress and complaint. The habit of drowsing in a chimney-corner at last grows upon lap-dogs; and when they are put out for the night, their humor may often resemble that of the abbots whom Joseph the Second ousted from their snug convents. In a similar manner the dependence upon dry-goods becomes a second nature with pet monkeys and marmots, and Dr. Brehm’s baby chimpanzee insisted on being rocked to sleep, and screeched violently if his nurse stopped the cradle before he had entered the realm of dreamland. Facts of that sort, indeed, often tempt one to conclude that all kinds of unnaturalism can become a “second nature.” The sheep of the Shetlands learn to prefer dried fish to grass, and there is a story of an Indian rajah who, by way of experiment, fed a colt on a mixture of meat and meal, and finally on meat-hash alone’; and this in the course of a year produced a maned monster that would gallop down billy goats, stamp them out of shape, and tear out pieces with its teeth, snorting viciously if any one attempted to interfere with its wolfish feast. Corpulent lap-dogs get used to pepper-sauce, to ketchup, and even to strong, bitter coffee, a stimulant unredeemed by the least trace of nutritive ingredient; that is, they learn to prefer it to milk. Their organism somehow adapts itself to the abnormal habit, but experiences the evil consequences the sooner, the less their development is neutralized by the redeeming influence of active exercise. Papfed hounds lose their teeth, and pampered lap-dogs incur what Hippolyte Taine called the “penalty of effeminacy and absinthe ”— they perish childless. The wolfish tramp-dogs of the Mexican border raise about nine out of ten pups; dyspeptic pugs, hardly one out of five. The few whelps they do raise are so ill-favored and snappish that the vote of the first referendum is likely to doom them to the Stygian whirlpool. Overfed pets also forfeit a hereditary accomplishment that manifests itself even in the youngsters of vigorous breeds — they cannot swim. Their adipose tissue may keep them afloat for a while, but they cannot stem the current of any swift stream, and succumb to the problem of climbing a slippery bank.
(To be continued.)